Convention Hall, Community Concourse, San Diego, CA, USA – October 17, 1971
Disc 1 (45:50) Careful With That Axe Eugene, Fat Old Sun, Atom Heart Mother
Disc 2 (43:19) Embryo, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Cymbaline, Blues
One of the best loved recordings from Pink Floyd’s American tour in the fall of 1971 is the one from San Diego, largely thanks to the excellent, yet sadly incomplete audience recording that has been booted many times. There was a vinyl release called From Oblivion (Never End NE 6.21) but the show has been most widely circulated on compact disc under such titles as Embryo San Diego 1971 (Live Storm LSCD 51020), Embryo San Diego 1971 (Golden Stars PICD 1020), From Oblivion (Never End NE 6.22), The Heart Of The Sun (Triangle Records PYCD 046), Life Could Be A Dream (Black Panther BP 085), Life Could Be A Dream (Living Legend Records LLRCD 072), and last but perhaps the best as Heart Of Darkness (Sirene-190). This new release boasts a transfer coming from the 1st gen cassette > Digital DAT for lineage and does truly live up to “Truly Amazing Sound” moniker awarded to many releases.
When compared to Heart Of Darkness (Sirene-190) the first thing that I noticed was the slight amount of hiss present on Heart Of Darkness is much lower and the recording has a cleaner sound to it, more crisp, brighter, and sounds better detailed. This new Sigma title is not as loud as the Sirene, although not by much but the increase in sound volume does contribute to hiss. This sound makes for a warmer listening experience that sounds very natural. The track times are also slightly longer and it sounds like they have slowed the pitch ever so slightly, although I never noticed if the Sirene ran too fast and both do not sound like they are running too fast or slow and is down to personal preference. The mastering of the source tape is really well done and is a nice upgrade to the Sirene and most certainly for those still having the really old titles.
As WGPSEC wrote in his assessment of the Sirene title, the performance is excellent yet frustratingly incomplete, the taper cut out the tune ups but there is a precious little bit of chatter that remains and most certainly Echoes and A Saucerful Of Secrets were played but have never circulated on this recording. The balance is sound is virtually perfect with only the drums not well defined. I have also wondered if Set The Controls has not been moved, most set lists, including the night before (Santa Monica 1971, Sigma 50) place it in the first part of the show. There is not a bad performance in the lot, I particularly enjoyed the version of Atom Heart Mother, Gilmour’s guitar just almost metallic and it is these small band versions that made me really go and listen to the original version and it has since become one of my favorite numbers.
The packaging is typical Sigma, live and posed shots, excellent graphics and of course, the highly collectable sticker. The CD’s have pictures on them, both are the same a shot of the group surrounded by black. All in all the packaging is excellent and far superior to the Sirene that was dull and blurry. This show was deserving of a makeover and the folks at Sigma have given us a much needed upgrade in sound and presentation.